The ruling AIADMK is once again being accused of distributing cash to voters ahead of the assembly election, this time in the high-profile Chepauk-Triplicane constituency, from where DMK heir Udhayanidhi Stalin is contesting.
A two-minute video doing the rounds on social media shows a man, said to belong to the AIADMK’s minority wing, handing out ₹500 notes to women. Upon presenting their voter ID cards, the woman also receive AIADMK promotional material.
Pattali Makkal Katchi’s (PMK) Kasali takes on Udhayanidhi, son of son of DMK president MK Stalin and the party’s youth-wing leader, in Chepauk-Triplicane. The PMK is fighting the election in alliance with the AIADMK. It is contesting in 23 seats.
RS Bharathi, the DMK’s organising secretary and a member of the Rajya Sabha, asked the Election Commission and the police to take action against the AIADMK. “The ruling party is under the impression that it can get away with anything with support from the Centre. It is taking things for granted and will pay for it soon,” he told The Indian Express newspaper.
Bharathi also accused the AIADMK of making online payments to voters and said he had informed the chief election officer of the practice. In his letter, Bharathi said his party candidate in Thondamuthur, Karthikeya Sivasenathipathy, had received information that incumbent minister and AIADMK candidate, SP Velumani, and his followers were collecting mobile phone numbers of voters and sending them money via Google Pay and similar apps.
AIADMK spokesperson Kovai Selvaraj denied the allegations and said the man in the Chepauk constituency video was not a member of the party.
On Wednesday police had booked former minister and AIADMK candidate for Natham constituency, Natham R Viswanathan, on bribery charges. A video from his recent campaign visit to Mulaiyur panchayat and adjacent areas purportedly shows him giving money to voters.
In Tamil Nadu cash-for-votes allegations against political parties are not new. A newspaper report headline from 2019 called the practice the state’s “best kept secret”.
“In the just-concluded elections to 38 Lok Sabha constituencies and 18 Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, cash seizures alone added up to around ₹215 crore, almost 10 times the haul during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls,” The Hindu newspaper reported on April 28, 2019.